Tipton junior Griffin Hare, Peru sophomore Kash Bellar and Kokomo freshman Brandon Hansen are heading to the IHSAA Boys Golf State Finals after strong regional performances Thursday.
Hare was the individual champion in the Muncie Central Regional at The Players Club in Yorktown while Bellar and Hansen advanced with top-five finishes in the Plymouth Regional at Swan Lake G.C.
The State Finals are Tuesday and Wednesday at Prairie View G.C. in Carmel.
Hare fired a sizzling 5-under 67 in winning the Muncie Central Regional.
"It's an unbelievable feeling," he said. "It's up there with one of my top accomplishments in my golf career. I just played a beautiful round of golf [Thursday] and I can't wait for the State Finals."
Hare started on the back nine and quickly settled into a groove. The Ball State commit carded a 3-under 33 on the back and a 2-under 34 on the front.
"I got off to a good start, birdieing holes 10 and 11 and those are two of the toughest holes on the back nine so I just rode that confidence," he said. "I was able to hit my irons really well and coming down the stretch, I was able to make some putts."
Hare just missed matching his career-best round of 6-under 66, which he shot at Purdue's Ackerman G.C.
"As we were talking coming home he thought he had a couple birdie chances that he missed. I think he had two bogeys," Tipton coach Kenny Day said, noting seven birdies as well. "He said there were a couple more out there for him to get. He had an excellent day. He just fought through everything."
Hare said he was plenty comfortable with the course.
"I probably played here 20 times before [Thursday] with the past two years at the regional and just summer and fall golf so I felt really good going into it," he said.
The Blue Devil standout will be making his first trip to state.
"It's hard to put into words that I'm going to the State Finals," he said. "It was one of my goals at the beginning of the year and now I want to do something when I'm there. We're not done yet, we have something to prove now."
For Hare, the regional title was made all the sweeter by the fact he made amends after shooting an 80 in the regional last year. When his shot at redemption came Thursday, he proved ready.
Hare is playing with confidence gained from hard work and improvement.
"My game is more consistent than it has been in the past," he said. "I'm happy with the progress. My short game has really evolved and I'm just happy with the big steps going forward."
Tipton took sixth in the regional with a 312. No. 3-ranked Noblesville won with a 300, followed by Yorktown at 301, No. 12 Hamilton Southeastern at 309 and No. 18 New Castle at 310. No. 9 Indianapolis Cathedral and Tipton tied, and Cathedral took fifth based on the better fifth score. The top three teams advance to state.
After Hare's 5-under 67, Tipton's Noah Wolfe shot 77, Nate Slack shot 82, Mylan Swan shot 86 and Ethan Clouser shot 88. Slack and Clouser are seniors.
"I'm really proud of the kids," Day said. "We weren't just taking three kids, we're taking a team and I think our 4 and 5 kind of bought into what we were trying to do and they wanted to go to the state tournament. And we were, what, just three shots short?"
Hare was proud of his team.
"At the beginning of the year, I didn't think we'd be three shots away from getting to the State Finals. We really improved and I'm really happy about that," he said.
Hansen and Bellar played in the final group to tee off at the Plymouth Regional. Their group had three No. 1s from teams and Hansen as an individual to complete the foursome.
Bellar fired a 73 to tie for third individually and Hansen fired a 74 to finish fifth. They took the third and fourth of five individual advancing spots.
"I think what really helped the most was he was paired with Kash Bellar and the No. 1 golfers from [Bishop] Dwenger and Culver [Academy]. It was just a very focused, intense foursome," Kokomo coach Jay Davis said. "This was amazing: They played 72 holes combined between the four golfers and there were only two double bogeys. Both Kash and Brandon, neither one of them made a double the whole way around.
"Brandon birdied his final hole. He made bogey on 17, and made birdie on 18. That basically secured him [an advancing spot]. That got him to 74."
Dwenger's Johnny Filler was medalist with a 72. He defeated Homstead's Adam DeLong in a playoff.
Hansen had played the course recently and the experience helped.
"I think his decision-making, that was probably key," Davis said of Hansen's play Thursday. "We played the tournament up there a week-and-a-half ago on Memorial Day weekend and I think that was very key to his round [Thursday]. He knew what to hit and where to hit. He kept himself out of trouble. His putting was good enough. He drove the ball really well, kept it in play, hit a lot of fairways."
Hansen is the first Kokomo individual to advance to state in Davis' eight seasons as coach.
No. 17-ranked Dwenger won the team title with a score of 305. No. 7 Penn (307) and Warsaw (318) took the other advancing spots. Peru finished fifth, just one shot back of Warsaw.
After Bellar's 73, Corbin Robison and Jake Van Baalen had 79s for the Tigers and T. Fred Eddy had an 88.
Western (338) was 12th and Cass (346) was 13th in the 18-team field.
Kyle Sanders (81) and Trevor White (82) led Western. Spencer Chambers (87) and Levi Purtee (88) followed for the Panthers.
Conrad Emmons led Cass with an 82. Ben Carpenter had an 84, Andy Conwell had an 86 and Mason Hahn had a 94 for the Kings' fourth score.